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Visit Kielder – Interactive Sound Garden


Kielder Water & Forest Park is home to the biggest man-made lake in Northern Europe and, at over 250 square miles, the largest working forest in England. It is a tourist and recreational destination offering excellent walks, fishing, mountain biking, nature and sculpture trails amongst many other activities. The students’ brief was to propose a design for interactive ‘sound garden’ visitor attraction.

The Challenge

  • To enhance the experience of listening to audio content through participative interaction.
  • To provide a playful experience that may appeal to both younger and more mature audiences.
  • To deliver an interactive sound event that requires no prior familiarity, knowledge or personal ownership of equipment.
  • To reduce the impact of unsolicited sound by restricting the experience to a designated area.

Working with Kielder

The students work directly with Peter Sharpe, Curator at Visit Kielder, and Northumbria staff on creating highly imaginative design proposals for Kielder Water. This entailed research visits to the lake and forest park, creating numerous development presentations for feedback from Peter, before final submission of finished visuals and ‘video prototypes’ as part of a media packs that could be used when applying for funding to create the proposed designs.

Working with an external client and creating professional proposals for an interactive design installation gave the students a lot of confidence in their final year. Some of whom have gone on to create similar successful proposals for other Arts organisations.

The Results

20 proposals were finally submitted illustrating a great breadth of imaginative solutions and creative expertise. Peter Sharpe was impressed by the quality of the submissions, a number of them were selected for costing and it is hoped that we may see one or two of the ideas installed at Kielder Water in the near future!

Emma Nicol’s ‘Ghost of Emma’ is a supernatural horror experience where users become ghost hunters, walking through the forest picking up ghost frequencies with a headset and a handheld device!


Ghost by Emma Nicol from Northumbria University on Vimeo.

Matt Lok’s Echo proposal plays on the ancient use of Greek vases to help amplify sound in amphitheatres by encouraging visitors to record their voices in digitally enhanced bronze vases to create an eerie amplified sound experience.


Echo by Matt Lok from Northumbria University on Vimeo.

To see more of Emma’s work visit:

To see more of Matt’s work visit:

Course info

UCAS Code W280

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Location Squires Building, Newcastle City Campus

City Newcastle

Fee Information

Module Information

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